There was a lot of hype and expectation coming for the Ducks and Blackhawks game on Wednesday. Chicago is the number one team in the NHL and Anaheim is close behind at number two. After another come from behind 4-2 victory over Chicago, the Ducks are looking to take that number one spot.
With the win, Anaheim is only three points back from Chicago and they are the only team to have beaten Chicago twice this season.
"They’ve made a statement to run away with it so far, and we’ve quietly just gone about our business," Bobby Ryan said. "This is the first game the media has really hyped what we’ve done. And we’re ok with that. To be three points back with a game in hand is huge.”
It was a battle you don't usually see in the regular season. This one was late round Stanley Cup playoff worthy. For the largest crowd ever at Honda Center at 17,610 people, nearly 500 who had to stand for the whole thing, the game did not disappoint.
“I haven’t heard our building like that in a long time," said Ryan. "They had a lot of fans here too, so I think it added to it, and the fans seemed to feed off each other. It was electric. It was great.”
Right from the start, both teams had energy and jump in their step. Peter Holland got a quick goal at 1:24 to give the Ducks the lead and a great start to the game. The puck rebounded off the end boards right to Holland's stick, making it easy to put it past Corey Crawford. Crawford would not yield again until the third period.
Anaheim had a great chance to extend the lead with their first power play opportunity. Chicago had other ideas. Jonathan Toews blocked a shot from Sheldon Souray and took off toward Jonas Hiller. He ignored a couple chops on his hand by Ryan Getzlaf, refusing to give up the puck and scored a beauty of a short handed goal at 3:52. Tie game.
The fast pace and high energy game did not stop in the second period. Nick Leddy's power play goal at 11:54 put the Hawks ahead. Nice present for his 22nd birthday.
In the third period, it looked like the Hawks were going to take over, especially when Brandon Bollig appeared to have his first NHL goal at 5:57. In a case of "the camera doesn't lie," the goal was overturned because Bollig made a distinct kicking motion to get it in the net behind Hiller.
Instead of being 3-1, Blackhawks, it was still 2-1 and the Ducks knew they still had a chance. Time to wake back up and get back into the game.
The comeback kids came back again. Bobby Ryan tied up the game at 14:33 on a rebound from flu-ridden Ryan Getzlaf. It was the Ducks fifth shot on goal since midway through the second period.
At 15:37, Teemu Selanne got his first goal in nine games to give the Ducks the lead. They never let it go after that.
“It’s a big relief," said Selanne. "Lately I’ve had some bad luck. Today I had so many chances. In the last couple games, luck was not on my side. But it’s always good. That gives me a lot of confidence and it’s a good feeling. But the win was the most important. The good thing is we found a way to win the game.”
On the face off after the goal, Andrew Cogliano earned some warrior points and a trip to the dentist. Bollig sticked Cogliano in the mouth, leaving Cogliano writhing on the ice, bleeding profusely from the loss of two teeth. Double minor to Bollig? Nope. Somehow the referees "never saw it."
The Ducks persevered and Sheldon Souray added an empty net goal at 19:39 for the insurance marker.
There will be a rematch with Chicago in the Windy City on March 29. Is it possible that game could be even more high energy and important than this one?
For now, the Ducks have 13 wins in a row at the Honda Center and their 14th come from behind win this season.
Next up are two home games with the Detroit Red Wings.
In other notes: Patrick Maroon was signed to a two year contract extension worth $1.15 million. Brandon McMillan was reassigned to Norfolk of the AHL.